Mons Against Guns - January 2003

Denver Women's Commission
Mons Against Guns - January 2003

January 10, 2003
Prepared by Chaer Robert
for Colorado Woman News

MOMS AGAINST GUNS

Tasha Ross, like most Coloradoans, did not get involved in the debate over gun laws. Then her son, Lamont James Monroe was shot and killed as he defended a friend. To honor his memory, and for the sake of her other son, she has to speak out. She attended the Million Moms March Press Conference on the opening day of the State Legislative Session. The purpose of the press conference was to ask the legislators "to consider the high cost of gun violence to our state, in both human terms and in hard costs, when deliberating bills” according to Barbara Laing of the Million Mom March.

In 2001, 509 Colorado residents died from firearm-related deaths. In 2001, 254 hospitalizations of Colorado residents were firearm-related. Nationally, 29% of patients hospitalized for firearm injuries had no health insurance. An additional 25% had Medicaid. This addresses only the immediate medical attention. Taxpayers also bear about half of the lifetime medical costs for those injured in shootings.

Gun rights proponents often use women's concerns to bolster their arguments. A gun is the so-called great equalizer between women and physically stronger men. But for most women, this argument contradicts reality. In 1998, for every one woman who used a handgun to kill an intimate partner in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by their intimate partner with a gun. More than 70% of domestic violence homicides in Colorado are committed with guns.

Three proposals were introduced that first day:

SB24 by Sen. Ken Chlouber – This bill, back by Governor Owens, would change our current system under which the local Sheriff or police chief has discretion to issue, or refuse to issue, concealed carry permits. Some sheriffs issue them to most who request one; others approve only a handful. A sheriff who does not carry out the wishes of his or her community can be voted out.

This bill would change our state to a “shall issue” state. Under this bill, a sheriff would be required to issue a concealed carry permit to anyone
- 21 or older (18 or over for “emergency permits”)
- not prohibited by law from carrying a firearm
- except certain alcohol and drug users
- not covered by a restraining order
- who has handgun training or expertise – may be waived for “emergency permits” for those in immediate danger.
Sheriffs would have the discretion to refuse a permit to others if they have a reasonable belief that documented previous behavior makes it likely that the individual would be a danger to themselves or other. If denied, this person could ask for a review, then take it to court.

SB 25 by Sen. Jim Dyer - Local governments could not limit someone’s rights to own, possess, carry, use or transfer a firearm. It would also wipe out all current local laws that are stricter than state law. For Denver, this includes a ban on assault weapons, flourishing or discharging guns in parks, a ban on BB guns for those under 18, etc.

SB 63 by Sen Doug Lamborn –Any Colorado resident age 21 or older who is eligible by law to possess a gun would have to be issued a permit to carry a hidden gun.

Do more guns make us safer? Would you feel better knowing that the person driving the car next to you could be armed? Would you feel safer walking your taking your kids to the park if you knew that the other people in the park could carry a hidden gun? If you were watching a football game would it be reassuring to consider that someone sitting behind you would likely qualify to have a hidden weapon? Those who want ability to carry their concealed weapons are calling their legislators. Most of us are silent until tragedy hits home.

For more information, contact the Million Mom March Denver Chapter at 303-505-2134 or MMM_Denver_Chapter@yahoo.com To find out how to contact your legislators, call your county clerk’s office.
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